Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Masters - What Makes the Week So Special?

Masters week is unquestionably my favorite week of the year. Many obvious factors make the week special, but it was not until I came over to St Andrews that I fully realized the value one of the specific feature - the CBS television coverage.

The CBS coverage of the Masters began in 1956, and has run a consecutive 58 years. It is all of the little things about this coverage that make the Masters so much more enjoyable to watch than any other golf tournament or sporting event. The most obvious benefit is the knowledgeable and unobtrusive commentary (unlike the Sky Sports commentary with which I have been stuck). Spectators are referred to as “patrons” and the rough is called the “second cut.” Inadherence to these rules is not tolerated, just take the examples of Gary McCord and Jack Whitaker. Despite all of these restrictions and rules, the commentary rarely feels scripted.

Augusta National mandates the number of commercials running during the broadcast. Commercial play is currently limited to four minutes per hour. There were no commercials during the 2003 and 2004 broadcasts. This makes watching the tournament endlessly more enjoyable. It isn't the Super Bowl; I don't want to see any commercials. The three tournament sponsors - Exxon Mobile, AT&T, and IBM - make this amazing commercial-less coverage possible. Augusta National also didn’t allow CBS to show all 18 holes of the course on television until 2002 in order to preserve some of the course’s mystique. It is all of these factors that add up to a great viewing experience.

Interestingly, CBS signs one-year contracts with Augusta National to continue its coverage of the Masters. This is one surefire way for the club to dictate coverage and maintain its rule over the coverage. I would venture to say that CBS would bend over backwards to meet Augusta National’s requests. It would be safe to say that things will not be changing in the Masters coverage any time soon.
I went to the 2012 Masters (view post here), and the course and experience held up to all of the myths and legends. I walked the course and made an effort to study each hole. I wanted to see Augusta National Golf Club more than any golf course in the World. I would never turn down another chance to go back to watch the tournament and would sacrifice nearly anything to play it, but right now, if I wanted to watch the golf, I would choose the comfort of my couch and the CBS coverage.

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